Posted in Kafevend Blog
Whereas companies like Tetley and PG Tips provide the sort of all day every day teas that we enjoy with gusto here in the UK, The Rare Tea Company sits at the other end of the spectrum. Sourcing small amounts of high quality tea for top end businesses, it is certainly far less known than the previous pair. However, this article will hopefully tell you more about The RTC and show you that higher quality tea isn't as difficult to acquire and enjoy as you might think.
The company's success has come from a dedication to supplying some of the very best tea that can be grown. The RTC spends lots of time travelling and tasting various teas produced by small scale farmers who have often passed under the radar of larger groups. After finding a high quality, flavourful tea, they make sure the farmers are working in a way that looks after both the enviroment and the workers themselves. The RTC then buys directly from the farmers, cutting out any middle men who might take a share of the higher than average payment they provide. They also make infrastructural arrangements such as packaging and transport to lessen the burden on the farmers.
The RTC was founded just ten years ago by Henrietta Lovell, self styled as the Tea-Lady. Despite this relatively short space of time, it now supplies tea to almost two hundred different restaurants, cafés, shops and hotels, many of them being fairly swanky places; they can point to a number of michelin star restaurants in their list of stockists. The majority of those businesses supplied by The RTC are found in London, though there are several elsewhere in the UK and more still around the world. You don't need to visit one of these establishments to enjoy their tea though. The website has a selection of teas for you to pick from and if you find one you really like, you can even set up a yearly subscription! All of the teas available are loose leaf and supplied in tins- if you set up a subscription, they'll send refill pouches to stock up the original tin.
As befitting their name, The RTC has a number of... rare teas on offer. One example is their silver tip jasmine tea- the process for making it is quite impressive. First, new, small leaves are picked from tea plants, wilted in the sun and then fixed to prevent further oxidation. This results in a white or "silver" tea. Next, the tea leaves are brought to a jasmine farm where they are laid out with picked jasmine blossoms at night, for six nights, to absorb their scent. This only occurs at a certain temperature and level of humidity which has to be monitored and maintained. Once the preserve of Chinese emperors, this tea is now available for anyone to enjoy thanks to businesses like The Rare Tea Company.